Liverpool v Barcelona: Goals could flow as Reds seek a miracle

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is on a roll in the Champions League
  • vs

Jack Lang is expecting attack to trump defence at both ends of the pitch on Tuesday night...

"Liverpool will have to take risks, which should give Barcelona the chance to counter-punch, and any away goal will only lead to more madcap attacking on the hosts' part"

Liverpool v Barcelona
Tuesday, 20:00
Live on BT Sport 2

Reds facing uphill task

A bad week almost turned into a catastrophic one for Liverpool on Saturday night, with Rafa Benítez and Newcastle putting up rather more resistance than many had anticipated. But then two substitutes - Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi - conjured something from nothing, meaning the Reds' title push will, after all, go to the final weekend. That dream is very much still alive.

Can we say the same of their Champions League hopes? It's not easy to be positive after the result of the first leg, which leaves them needing a miracle or two. Jürgen Klopp's side are well capable of scoring three times against any team, but it's also a big ask to keep Barça quiet for 90 minutes, and if the away side score, their task starts to look positively Sisyphean.

Klopp will have all of his digits crossed in the hope that Roberto Firmino is fit to return to the starting XI. The Brazilian has been badly missed over the last two games, with neither Georginio Wijnaldum nor Daniel Sturridge offering the same combination of smarts and skill up front. Mo Salah is touch-and-go after a head injury at Newcastle, but Trent Alexander-Arnold should play after being left out of the side in Catalonia.

(Note: Klopp has since confirmed that both Firmino and Salah will be absent through injury.)

Barça in a strong position

Both sides were just starting to do knockout maths - is 1-0 a decent result here? - when You Know Who came along and smashed everything to pieces. Lionel Messi is pursuing this Champions League with a manic desire, and the Camp Nou clash proved for the millionth time that he can bend games to his will when the mood takes him. And the mood takes him very often indeed.

Messi had the weekend off, and he wasn't the only one: Ernesto Valverde rested his entire starting side against Celta Vigo at the weekend. The subsequent 2-0 defeat didn't matter in the slightest, but a hamstring injury to Ousmane Dembélé deprives Barça of a real wildcard option in attack. "He is an important player for us and it is a major blow with the big games we have coming up," Valverde lamented.

Dembélé's loss is likely to be Philippe Coutinho's gain. The Brazilian didn't make a huge impression in the first leg, but has the added motivation of a homecoming here, and may find he has more space to work with if Liverpool go for broke.

Liverpool must make Anfield factor count

If Liverpool fans are looking for reasons to be hopeful, they should look at their side's recent home record: the Reds are unbeaten in 19 matches at Anfield in all competitions (W16 D3 L0), scoring 52 times across that run. The atmosphere will be fervent, and you can be sure Klopp will be willing his charges to channel some of the crazed energy that got them to last year's final.

Are they capable of winning this game without two of their usual front three? Probably, and odds of 2.265/4 might hold some appeal when you consider that Barcelona are far less of a force away from home than at Camp Nou. But there's a reason that the Blaugrana are 1.061/18 shots to qualify: Liverpool need something very, very special if they are to turn this around.

Goals could flow

A better angle, given the way the tie is set up, is to back goals. Liverpool will have to take risks, which should give Barcelona the chance to counter-punch, and any away goal will only lead to more madcap attacking on the hosts' part. Liverpool rattled Barça for a spell in the first leg with their pressing, and should fully expect to have some joy, too, even if Sadio Mané will have to shoulder much of the finishing burden.

This could, in short, turn into a thrilling slugging match. We therefore like a longer-odds punt on the Sportsbook: both teams to score two or more goals at 7/2.

Messi can add to tally

Lionel Messi has netted 12 Champions League goals this season - just two shy of his best ever tally in a single season, back in 2011-12. The Argentine has scored more goals against English teams than any other player in the competition's history (26), including six this season, and is 2.0811/10 to add another at Anfield.

Play our Football Jackpots Rollover - Pick four correct scores to win the jackpot

Jack Lang's Champions League P/L, 2018/19

Staked: 11pts
Returned: 11.82pts
P/L: +0.82pts

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles